Rainy Day Game's Board Game Review of Hellas:
Hellas in Summary
The Hellas board game has only one objective and two different pieces. Using knights and ships, you have to control 10 cities. This makes Hellas one of the leanest war games we've ever played. After a decade of Axis and Allies, this makes Hellas a refreshing change from the hundreds of units and complex initiative-based movement systems that put some gamers off the war game genre.
Hellas isn't like that. You play a game quickly with a minimum number of pieces to clutter the board and your strategy. Although there is the randomness of the card draw, we really like the lack of dice. And with a knowledge of the basic rules and the view of your cards, Hellas gives real opportunities to work on a strategy. Its low unit density and the tile-laying mechanic immediately bring to mind Settlers of Catan, but Hellas is a more ruthless, militaristic game.
The Hellas board game starts with players taking turns drawing and laying 4 terrain hexes. Each hex will always have water, land, and a city; sometimes it has a temple. The players put a ship and a knight on each of thier tiles and that is your starting position. 2 players, 4 cites each. Let the war begin.
Each turn you can choose to reinfore your position, attack your opponent, or voyage to undiscovered territory. To reinforce you have three "action points" (four if you control a majority of the temples) to spend on any combination of: create a new knight, build a new ship, or draw a god card. Hellas is set in ancient Greece and players can call on the favour of Ares (to affect battle), Poseidon (to affect seafaring) or Zeus (to affect general game rules). These cards can be played at any time during your turn, and sometimes during your partners turn, to affect the events.
Battle occurs whenever you want to take another city by force, and it is not determined by dice. Simply, if you're attacking by land and can muster a number attackers equal to the defenders, you take the city. If you're atacking across water, you have to have one more attacker than defender. Although there is no dice involved, remember those God cards can come in and really alter the battlefield.
Lastly, you can explore new land and add terrain hexes to the map. Remember, you start with 4 cities each and you need 10 to win, so someone is going to have to set sail. To discover new land you draw a random tile. You can place it on the board and ocupy its city if a) it fits onto the board (some pieces may not be able to continue the land and water already in play) and b) you have the majority of ships on the body of water it will be added to.
Hellas continues alternating between players until a player ends their turn with 10 cities under their control and winds the game.
Who should buy Hellas?
The Helas board game is very much in the German board game tradition. Players who enjoy those games but want something with a little more edge will appreciate Hellas. Building settlerments? How about invading them!
The rules are straightforward and players can quickly move on to the heart of the challenge. Hard core war gamers won't be satisfied with Hellas, but for the rest of us Hellas fills an important role in our game cabinents - the simple, elegant war game.
The Manufacturer's Board Game Review of Hellas:
Power struggle in ancient Greece
In the land of ancient Greece, called Hellas, the people waged power struggles for control of the many valuable islands. The combatants faced each other over land and across the seas. In these battles with sail and sword, the combatants venture forth to discover new islands to fight over. To aid them in their battles, the combatants often seek the favor of the Gods.
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Darryl's Board Game Review of Hellas:
So I finally had the chance to play the Hellas board game with my brother-in-arms, Corey. And I have to say Hellas lives up to its billing: at the end of the game were amazed at how much action and tactics have been squeezed into a very tiny little game board.
The Hellas board game really does share a lot of its best qualities with the other major German-style games out there. But the focus on war in Hellas makes it a great choice for people who like the style of game, but also like to get a little bloody.
We learned the game very fast and after the second time through (even our first learner game was under 30 minutes) we had stopped referring to the rulebook.
My one complaint is the see-saw nature of the end game. Hellas asks you to control 10 cities to win. Holding nine is a challenge, even if you have good board position. And securing that tenth often involves some luck from the gods in the form of the right card at the right time. I found that it was very easy to have your wave of domination break just before the decisive battle. Fortunes reverse very quickly in Hellas. And when I finally did win, I really felt I had earned it. But there was a little tearing of hair as I saw my defensive line crumble and my strategy set back 6 turns by one or two of the god cards.
So, yes, there's a little luck involved in Hellas. But how many games can you break the shrink wrap at 6pm, have the rules learned by 6:30, and proceed to have a full best-of-seven tournament before 9:00?
And the fun factor will bring us back for more. Hellas is the perfect alternative to 2 player card games as a consolation prize for players eliminated from a larger game like Axis and Allies. So, for everyone who enjoys a cool little tactical battle, Hellas will fill the bill.